Today, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), together with their affiliates, the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM) and the Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists (SSNM) issued a set of urgent demands necessary to set free Macedonian journalism and enable a culture of independence and quality journalism to flourish.
Central to the demands was a call for an end to the prosecution of our colleague Tomislav Kezarovski, jailed in 2013 for 4,5 years for allegedly revealing the identity of a protected witness.
At a press conference held in Skopje this morning Tamara Causidis, President of SSNM, Naser Selmani, President ZNM, and Mogens Bjerregard, President of the European Federation of Journalists called on the Macedonian authorities to enact a root and branch reform of the media community.
“The targeting of one journalist for his work is a threat to all journalists. European journalists are behind Tomislav Kezarovski,” said Mogens Bjerregard. “We need to build social protection of journalists and protect their rights so that they may inform and empower the public.
Naser Selmani said: “The Macedonian government controls the parliament, the judiciary and the media. In the current situation it is not possible to have a democracy. The authorities must free the media, end threats of prosecutions, stop instructing editors and reform the laws to ensure the independence of the public broadcaster and audiovisual regulator”
Commenting on the demands, Tamara Causidis said: “Journalists must be allowed to organize in unions without fear of retribution from employers.
“Too many journalists are threatened with dismissal just for membership of the trade union and the government does not do enough to protect the freedom of association.”
The press conference took place during the IFJ, EFJ, regional meeting: Campaigning for Journalists Rights in Eastern Europe: Union Recruitment, Legal protection and Social Rights for journalists unions from across central and Eastern Europe and hosted by the Macedonian affiliates ZNM and SSNM.
Recommendations for Reform of Macedonian Media
1. Amend the national legislation to bring into line with international norms on freedom of expression and ensure its application is applied equally and without discrimination;
2. Stop all acts of pressure and inappropriate restrictions on independent and critical media; re-examine all acts undertaken against journalists and offer compensation towards victims of undue and unjust measures. This applies to the closure of several media outlets and the court procedures against Tomislav Kezarovski;
3. Ensure the impartiality of courts, and conduct revision of procedures of judicial appointments in line with international standards and practices;
4. Train judges for proper application of the Law on libel and defamation in line with international standards and practices; ensure that state and party officials refrain from suing investigative journalists and media for legitimate exposure of information in the public interest;
5. Ensure that government media campaigns are entirely transparent and have a clear public interest based upon objective criteria; The Government is the major contribution in funds to private media.
6. The state should guarantee the impartiality of the Regulatory body for media, and protect it from partisan and economic influence
7. Guarantee freedom of assembly of journalists; thoroughly investigate government interfering into the work of journalistic unions and associations;
8. Make every effort to investigate all cases of violence against journalists and to hold the perpetrators to account to ensure an end to impunity
9. Take measures to guarantee the institutional and financial independence of the public broadcasting service;
10. Ensure that state institutions answer citizen’s requests for public information in a timely manner;
11. There can be no free journalism at a time when media employees work in conditions of corruption, poverty and self-censorship; Therefore, the state must guarantee minimum labour rights to association, collective bargaining and fair treatment at work.
This must be done by:
- taking measures against media owners who infringe labour rights and professional rights of media workers
- Guaranteeing the right to union membership in the work place without threat of dismissal
- Promoting the right to be represented by a trade union and to collective bargaining.
12. End all attempts to marginalize and discredit the work and role of independent trade union and professional association that are established to protect the rights of journalists, the independence and standards of the profession. Freedom of assembly must be absolutely guaranteed and protected.
13. Entering the journalistic profession and the right to be a journalist should not be regulated by any legislative definitions or regulations;
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM)
Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM)
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries